Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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A Third Way to end the culture war?

E.J. Dionne, Jr. hopes that a statement, to be issued shortly by Third Way ("a strategy center for progressives," which is what center-left folks have to call themselves if they want to be card-carrying Democrats), will succeed in its aspiration to "end the culture war."

I’ll read the statement with interest, remembering, however, that Third Way is the Capitol Hill version of the DLC, which attracted exactly none of the Democratic presidential aspirants to its most recent confab and that the Blue Dog Democrats, elected in conservative-leaning districts in 2006, might more properly be called "Lap Dog Democrats." And I guess I don’t need to remind anyone how Bob Casey, Jr. has voted recently.

In the meantime, I have to content myself with this memo on "framing" the abortion debate, based on this poll. One immediate takeaway from the memo is that the Third Way folks would like people to think that pro-lifers are interested in putting those who seek and those who provide abortions in prison. I’d be happy to yank the medical licenses of those who provide abortion on demand and in other ways make it difficult for them to operate, without necessarily imprisoning anyone.

Discussions - 8 Comments

Part of me definitely wants to just say "yawn"...yet another attempt by those lefties who don't like the (virtual and sometimes literal) screaming that accompanies real, heartfelt, and perhaps inevitable conflict over some very tough issues. The inevitable conclusion always follows: the pro-lifers should just surrender and we'll all just wring our hands and "struggle" with the "difficulty" of abortion choices while we in fact go right ahead and kill unborn children in the millions so as to preserve our God-given rights to unlimited sexual liberty and the most self-centered lives we can imagine. And why would the NARAL folks ever even begin to contemplate giving up their chokehold on the Democratic Party? Every single presidential candidate on their side went to the NARAL convention and bowed low to the gods of abortion-on-demand. It's hard to see that changing in the near term - and it's certainly not in NARAL's interest for it to do so.

What does this mean, Joe? I’d be happy to yank the medical licenses of those who provide abortion on demand and in other ways make it difficult for them to operate. On what ground would you yank medical licenses? Perhaps the answer is in the phrase "on demand."

"...the Third Way folks would like people to think that pro-lifers are interested in putting those who seek and those who provide abortions in prison."

They would like people to think that, or people already do think that, probably based on ambiguous language used by the Right that indicates they would like to keep that option open. Language such as "without necessarily imprisoning anyone" and Fred Thompson's apparent willingness to let abortion doctors go to jail, or to criminally charge women who get abortions beyond the first trimester.

South Dakota has moved much closer to a situation like that of Nicaragua, a situation that is apparently acceptable to "Concerned Women of America", and has also received a fairly specific nod from Pope Benedict, as well.

The memo indicated that people already think that Republicans want to see abortion criminalized, and I don't think Third Way needed to brainwash anyone to create such a perception.


My own view is that, should we get to a point where access to abortion can be limited (perhaps to emergencies where the life and health of the mother are threatened), those who persist in making abortions available "on demand" should face sanctions. Revoking a license to practice medicine strikes me as a reasonable sanction. I wouldn't punish the women.

Thanks, Joe. I figured out that must be what you meant -- that is, you were speaking hypothetically.

A more absolutist position, so to speak, which is what "pro-choice" people assume must be uniformly on the other side, could not stop with yanking licenses, could it? If abortion is murder, then it is a crime, not merely unlicensed practice.


Yes, of course. The question always is how the "crime" is defined and how it's sanctioned. I assume that different jurisdictions would react differently if Roe were overruled. I would be one of those in my state arguing for a more restrictive abortion regime, but with sanctions that didn't run the risk of inciting a backlash. Politics is the art of the possible.

For those who consider abortion akin to murder I've always been baffled when they say that there shouldn't be criminal penalties for the pregnant women who get abortions or seek to.

Well Craig politics as the art of the possible follows a much different logic than abortion is murder prosecute the doctor and the mother. This would encite a serious backlash... but I also think that overturning Roe v Wade would incite a serious backlash...(just talking like this incites a backlash among some people) especially if you went as far as Joe does all at once... You would have to start by trimming it back slowly... say all 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions with exceptions for rape, incest, and the health of the mother. That would probably be a big enough coup... If you ask me what is politically possible... probably getting rid of partial-birth abortion. Maybe every ten years you could roll abortion back... but I have a feeling that rolling it back too quickly will produce an equal and opposite reaction... one that rolls it back foward...In some sense if you ended it completly all at once you could make it seem a concession to roll it back to include Joe's proposal. Of course it might get real ugly real quick. But I don't see how politics as the art of the possible will ever produce anything on the abortion front. I think eventually this issue will just radicalize everyone like Michael Simpson who will get tired of being strung along by the same old Republican pragmatists.

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